For years, when we’re on vacation, our family has followed a tradition of doing “Best of the Day”. We almost always do this tradition in the evening, usually during dinner. During Best of the Day, everyone takes a turn at telling what was their best part of the day; duplications aren’t allowed. There have been very few times when we’ve had to enforce the duplications rule because, almost always, everyone sees the day’s activities a little differently. Even when more than one person picks the same event, there are specific nuances for each person that make each Best of the Day unique. This has been a great way to reinforce the wonderful activities, sights and events that are part of our vacations and it’s also an eye-opening way to find out what is meaningful for each of our children.
Today, our safari group headed off to a neighboring game reserve with the hope of seeing elephants. Those who know me know that seeing elephants in their natural surrounding would definitely be a Best of the Day. We did find the elephants and watched from several different viewpoints as they drank from a river and wandered its banks. I was awestruck! Just as with watching the elephants at the zoo, I could have stayed much longer than those I was with. While seeing the elephants was an incredible experience that moved me in much the same way Michelangelo’s Pieta moved me when we were in Rome two years ago, I realized that this was not going to be Best of the Day for me. Earlier, as we’d entered the game reserve, we’d seen two giraffes off in a field beside the road. We’ve seen several giraffes over the last couple of days, so seeing them was not, in itself, that spectacular, but then, they ran! The grace and beauty of these strangely large creatures galloping across the field was amazing! Again, I was awestruck! This, I thought, would be Best of the Day.
Our group picnicked beside a small river (in the Pacific Northwest we could call it a creek) and then prepared to leave in order to see if we might possibly be lucky enough to find the lions given that we’d already found the elephants. We all loaded up into our 11-person open-air jeep-type vehicle and then our guide noticed that one of the back tires had gone flat. No problem, there’s a spare underneath the jeep. However, the long metal rod that is used to loosen the spare from its mooring was missing. Our guide tried using a similar instrument from another tour vehicle parked nearby, but it did not work. Our guide’s cell phone was out-of-range and we did not have a radio, so we were forced to wait while the other vehicle’s guide went to the nearby (and that’s a relative term) lodge to ask them to send assistance. Our guide quickly mentioned that he hoped they would not be on “Africa time”. Well, they were. Three hours went by before the tire was patched, pumped up (by hand) and ready to drive on. Three hours with nothing to read, no cell phones, no Internet – nothing! Nothing but the silence of the African countryside, a bird lover’s bevy of exotic birds flitting around, baboons wandering back forth in front of us and a level of peace and internal quiet that I have not known in, dare I say it, YEARS! Three hours where I was content to just sit, listen and watch (and smell, too – I could smell the baboons before we could see them). Three hours of peaceful satisfaction that I’d almost forgotten could exist – definitely Best of the Day.